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Upul Tharanga – ‘Niroshan Dickwella’s experience will be useful heading into T20 World Cup’

Sri Lanka’s selectors want to lean on known quantities and experience as opposed to the untested vigour of youth, as they make their final tweaks for the T20 World Cup in June. That was the main reason they recalled Niroshan Dickwella for the T20I series in Bangladesh after Kusal Perera was ruled out with a respiratory infection.

This also means the likes of Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, Dunith Wellalage, Lasith Croospulle and Shevon Daniel may have to bide their time for further opportunities with the national side. And if so, Viyaskanth might feel the most hard done by, having picked up eight wickets in four games for MI Emirates, at an economy of 5.43, in the recent ILT20.

Viyaskanth has also shown himself to be a growing threat throughout his multiple seasons in the LPL. But given he has played just one T20I till now, the selectors felt it would be a risk to blood him in with the World Cup around the corner.

“In T20s we need a wicket-taking option, which is why we opted for Jeffrey [Vandersay] over someone like Dunith [Wellalage],” Upul Tharanga, the chairman of selectors, said. “We felt that Jeffrey was more of an attacking bowler in T20s.

“We [also] had a big discussion regarding Viyaskanth and Jeffrey, and there were differing opinions within the selection committee. But in the end, we went with Jeffrey because the World Cup is coming up soon and there was a question over whether Viyaskanth could suddenly be brought in to play in a World Cup. So that’s why we went with Jeffrey and his experience.”

It was a similar story regarding Dickwella, who was picked ahead of Croospulle and Daniel.

“We were looking for someone to play in the top order [with the injuries to Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Perera]. We looked at Shevon Daniel, Lasith Croospulle and Dikka [Dickwella], but the first two are still quite young. It was difficult to pick them based purely on their most recent performances.

“They’re very talented cricketers, someone like Shevon can play for 10 to 15 years for Sri Lanka. A player like that, do we drop him into a difficult situation? Or do we hold him back and let him play in the NSL, A team, give experience and then bring him into the side?”

“We spoke to the captain, as well as the coach, and they also felt Niroshan Dickwella was the best option at this time because heading into a World Cup, his experience will be useful.”

Apart from his erratic form, among the primary concerns surrounding Dickwella’s inclusion were also his disciplinary issues, most notably when he was among three players banned for breaching bio-bubble protocols in 2021. Tharanga, however, said this was a subject that had been discussed with the player.

“Discipline is very important. We spoke to Dikka. The team is playing well, and we really haven’t had any issues with discipline in recent times. That’s a very important thing, it shows the unity of the team as well. Discipline needs to be the number one thing.”

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